Late bottled vintage Chablis from a no compromise operation
One of the oldest properties in Chablis and with family winemaking ancestry stretching back some 400 years, this is a domaine with important historical presence. This producer pretty much rips up the rule book, with their ethos and approach unmatched in Chablis, or pretty much anywhere for that matter.
The 30 hectare estate has significant Premier Cru plantings, though only material from the oldest 20 ha of vines makes it into the estate wines, the rest sold to the local co-op. Juice is given an oxidative splash out of the press, with inoxidative handling thereafter. No oak is used in the élevage, with weight and texture brought about through extended skin contact, long and slow wild ferments, no artificial rushing of malolactic fermentation which can take months, and an inoxidative bâtonnage technique of drawing fine lees from the bottom of tanks to the top, typically for two years for Premier Crus and up to three years for the Grand Cru wines.
Most critically, the wines receive significant ageing in tank - sometimes upwards of 12 years! They are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and receive a further six months in bottle before release. The resultant wines are certainly ready to drink, but with a freshness belying vintage date and certainly built for further bottle ageing. To call this approach unique is an understatement, perhaps only similarly seen in late bottled vintage Port. The resultant wines however are quite monumental expressions, a must try for any Chablis enthusiast.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis 2012
Intense and pure, even for an entry wine. This is an old vine cuvée with vine age averaging 45 years, the oldest plantings dating back to 1905. Fine lees are stirred monthly for one year before bottling without fining or filtration. Fresh and powerful, pretty classic Chablis, overall impressions of brine and oyster shells with lemon, peach, pear and green fruits. Whilst tense it has some richness and power, definitely a step up from many AC Chablis.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis premier Cru Vaillons 2003
Alcoholic fermentation took three weeks, with full malolactic fermentation naturally achieved. Lees are stirred for 18 months prior to bottling where the wine rested in the domaine's cellars before release.
The lees character gives an impression of woodiness despite no oak treatment, and the mineral qualities here are more in the beeswax and honey spectrum rather than earth/rock derived. Fruit is apples, pears, lemon, with some almond nuttiness, the finish impressively long though delicate, closing with fine salinity. A detailed and elegant expression.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Premier Cru Côte de Lechet 2003
Grown in the poor stony soils of the Côte de Lechet vineyard on a very steep slope at some 38% incline facing south east. 18 months lees stirring as for the Vaillons.
A powerful style, showing fatter, more buttery notes. The palate fleshes out over green apple, hay, and lemon curd, though the star here is the mouthwatering and deeply satisfying core of Chablisien mineral.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles 2007
Grenouilles is the smallest of Chablis' Grand Cru sites, and named for the frogs which frequent the vineyard. Defaix's vines are at the vineyard's highest point.
A knockout wine, intense, fat and with incredible length. A rich and buttery nose, with an array of citrus and apple fruit, over a plethora of classic Chablis brine and mineral, an energetic wine which hums on the palate.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2007
One of Chablis' most sought after crus, simply magnificent. A dense nose of white flowers and hay, giving way to a long and tightly packed palate of leatherwood honey, butter, crushed flower petals, digestive biscuit, liquorice root and white peach. Most attractive is an intense flint and gunsmoke character which buzzes throughout the wine's epic finish.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Bourgogne Red 2014
A unique beast in being drawn from a small plot of Pinot vines planted in Chablis, hence the classification of Bourgogne. No ordinary red Bourgogne of course, and we snapped up our tiny allocation offer.
As to be expected, weighty in the mineral department. Lively acidity, stony, with aromatics and flavours of cherries, blackcurrant and cranberry. Has a ferrous quality also, made us think of ironstone. Long, complex, individualistic, and pretty special.